Prior to this trip, I have been in Italy at least half dozen times, but all of my previous trips were arranged by travel agents. This is the first time that we were aiming for a self-tour, an adventure. Regardless how well we have planned, we missed calculating the time needed between arrival at the airport and the villa out in the countryside. Garmin rocks in many countries, but it often appears confused in the remote country locations. We arrived very late and missed the check-in deadline; however, we still received a warm welcome from Ricardo and Simona. Richardo helped us with our luggage and Simona handed us the key instantly that we were able to settle in the apartment without any hassles.
After 22 hours, we could simply drop our bags in the room and walk into a nice and cozy dining room for our first glass of authentic Chianti wine. A gourmet 4-course dinner was served with true Italian hospitality.
Nicola brought us a 4-page wine list and give us an introduction of different types of Italian wines. Whenever a dish is served, Cesar would explain to us the ingredients and spices used. Steve loves to try varieties of wines. When he found out that Sandra is the wine connoisseur, he has been getting her advice for our dinner wine choices. We consumed one bottle a night for five nights, but we were told it was nothing in comparison with the intake by other people.
We were in a foreign country and in a rental, but we felt like at home and chatted with family and friends. We were not dining at a regular restaurant, instead, we enjoyed a home-made and authentic Italian cooking right at the villa. We either dined inside the restaurant with tasteful decorations or outside in a large gazebo area with candle lights and a sky full of stars.
Amazing enough, the main chef in the kitchen is the mother of Richardo and Sandra. I love almost everything come out of her kitchen. In fact, I have since learned to use plum sauce on sliced pork, various sauces on different pasta and easy dessert with lots of flavors.
At the villa, the pace is easy, peaceful and relaxed. Every morning we were welcome with a pre-dawn fog hovering over the vineyard. Layers of hues change as sun rises. It is surreal and heavenly.
The moment when the sun hits the horizon, I couldn’t usually wait to rush to this spot to observe the majestic nature scene. You can pick up a morning read and sit on the balcony or you can open all your windows to suck in the freshest air. For me, I ran down to the lower level in the wide open space to set up my tripod awaiting for sunrise.
The view is fantastic from all angles. Often times I lost my choice of focal point because there are so many beautiful subjects right in front of you and for you only. The villa was fully occupied and yet it was so quiet that you think you have the whole place for yourself. I cannot count how many times I have run down these stairs and wandered into the vineyard to get my shoes wet and to smell the sweet aroma of fresh grapes.
As daylight gradually took over the whole place, the main entry of the villa comes to sight. I would climb up to the upper level where the swimming pool is and overlook the place. Beyond the building, there is the typical Tuscany scene, rolling hills and vineyards. And, I love when they are overshadowed by morning fog.
I tried not to shoot anything when the sun was up high. So here came my quiet time. I had a cup of Italian coffee to sip and my laptop to work on the photos. And, I could easily locate a spot to lounge myself in without any interruptions.
Either it is a recliner along the poolside looking out the vineyard and mountains in distance or simply a table and few chairs on a casual corner. You are guaranteed to enjoy to your contentment.
This is a lovely vacation spot with home comfort and ease. You are far away from city and not too far away from reality. You are surrounded by beautiful nature, but not far away from civilization.
You run into friends from other parts of the world and enjoy little chit-chat to broaden your world view in an informal pace. Friends who choose to come to the same place have obviously liked something in common and the conversational harmony is a pleasure. And, I cannot tell you how nice Richardo, Simona, Nicola and Sandra are. Whenever you need them, they are there and they make you feel like you are part of their family…
Now you know why I miss this place so much. We surely hope to come back soon.
P.S. Something is going on with the layout. I simply could not get everything aligned… more skills that I need to have.